The Medical College of Wisconsin received a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute to investigate the mechanisms underlying the development of glaucoma.
Brian Link, Ph.D., professor of cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy, is the principal investigator for the grant.
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which elevated pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, leading to visual impairment. There are several types of glaucoma that affect an estimated 2.2 million Americans. Many obstacles, however, stand between scientists and the discovery of the genes that impact glaucoma in humans. Dr. Link and his lab are reducing these obstacles by developing techniques to explore the roots of the disease using zebrafish. Using zebrafish, Dr. Link’s lab isolated the bugeye mutations in lrp2, a large receptor protein. Zebrafish with lrp2 mutations show the same symptoms as glaucoma: increased ocular pressure, nearsightedness, and optic nerve damage.
In this study, Dr. Link along with Kerry Veth and Dr. Ross Collery , research associates in his lab, will examine the genes associated with mutations that produce glaucoma-associated effects. This team will conduct experiments to identify the signaling pathways by which the mutated genes are expressed into these debilitating symptoms. Dr. Link also seeks to identify new genes connected with glaucoma-associated conditions.
Glaucoma is a multi-factorial disease, and Dr. Link’s research will help define the cellular and molecular activities involved.
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